US 20040027560 A1 Abstract A method and system for measuring optical scattering characteristics includes coupling a continuous wave laser excitation signal to an optical fiber. Radiation backscattered by the optical fiber in response to the coupled excitation signal is detected to produce a backscattered radiation signal. The backscattered radiation signal is mixed with the excitation signal to produce a mixed signal. The mixed signal is filtered to reduce the magnitude of frequencies other than conjugate mixing frequencies relative to the conjugate mixing frequencies. The filtered signal is digitized and the magnitude of backscattered radiation from a specific portion of the fiber is calculated based on the digitized signal. The temperature of a specific portion of the fiber can be determined from the magnitude of the backscattered radiation.
Claims(9) 1. A system for measuring optical characteristics comprising:
a laser producing an excitation signal; a single-mode optical fiber coupled to the laser so that a coupled excitation signal is introduced into the optical fiber, wherein the coupled excitation signal is a continuous wave signal modulated at variable frequencies; a first detector positioned to receive radiation backscattered by the optical fiber in response to the coupled excitation signal. 2. The system of 3. The system of 4. The system of 5. The system of 6. The system of 7. The system of 8. The system of 9. The system of Description [0001] This patent application is a divisional of, and claims priority to, commonly owned U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/840,060, filed Apr. 23, 2001, entitled, “Method and System for Measuring Optical Scattering Charateristics,” by Leif Fredin, Robert Chin and William Hallidy, which will issue as U.S. Pat. No. 6,606,148 on Aug. 12, 2003, and which is incorporated herein by reference for all purposes. [0002] The present disclosure relates in general to optical system monitoring, and, more particularly, to a method and system for measuring optical scattering characteristics. [0003] Optical fibers increasingly constitute the chief means for transmitting information through the world's telecommunications network. Certain characteristics of an optical fiber can also be used to generate information rather than just transmit it. Specifically, the temperature of an optical fiber affects the amount and wavelength of light that will be scattered in response to a transmitted pulse. Careful measurements of scattered light can therefore be used to determine the temperature at points along an optical fiber. As another example, mechanical stresses on the fiber affect the amount of certain wavelengths of light that will be scattered in response to a transmitted pulse. Once again, measurements of scattered light can yield useful information. [0004] Other optical systems also scatter light in correlation with characteristics of interest. For example, an air-filled region may scatter light in proportion to the density of pollutants or another constituent element of interest. Accurately measuring the extent to which certain wavelengths or ranges of wavelengths of light are scattered provides information about other characteristics of the system. [0005] In a conventional method a time-limited pulse of light with an electromagnetic spectrum of average wavelength λ is produced at an excitation source and sent through an optical fiber. When the excitation source is a laser, the electromagnetic spectrum is often very narrow and is referred to in shorthand as a single wavelength. As the pulse traverses the fiber, backward scattered light is produced. Three types of backward scattered light, among others, are of interest: Stokes light, anti-Stokes light, and Rayleigh light. Stokes and anti-Stokes light are collectively referred to as Raman light. Stokes light constitutes an electromagnetic spectrum having an average wavelength greater than λ. Anti-Stokes light constitutes an electromagnetic spectrum having an average wavelength less than λ. Rayleigh light has the same wavelength λ as the excitation source. The width of the Stokes and anti-Stokes spectra, as measured by the difference in wavelength between the points of 50% intensity, is often much greater than the width of the time-limited pulse spectra and the Rayleigh light spectra, especially if that pulse is produced by a laser. [0006] Some of the Rayleigh, Stokes, and anti-Stokes light travels to the end of the fiber at which the pulse was introduced, while some is scattered at an angle such that it is absorbed by the cladding of the fiber or escapes. The location from which the backward scattered light originated can be determined by the time between the introduction of the pulse and the receipt of the light. After a pulse is introduced into the fiber, backward scattered light is continuously received and time functions of the total intensity across the Stokes and anti-Stokes spectra can be determined. Under particular circumstances, the temperature of a point in the fiber has a known relationship to the ratio of the anti-Stokes light produced at that point to the Stokes light produced at that point. If, however, the intensity of the excitation per area of the fiber core is too high, non-linear distortions eliminate the temperature proportionality. Increasing the measurement accuracy of Stokes and anti-Stokes intensity as a function of time without introducing non-linear distortion, increases the accuracy of the resulting calculation of temperature as a function of position in the fiber. [0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,113,277 discloses a Fiber Optic Distributed Temperature Sensor System. The '277 patent contemplates introducing a light pulse from a light source into a fiber. The scattered light is then divided by wavelength spectra with detectors positioned to receive the Stokes light and anti-Stokes light, respectively. The measurements made by the detectors are then introduced into an equation to determine the temperature at each measured distance. [0008] The use of timed pulses of light to detect temperature or mechanical stress can require expensive components. For example, a light source that has sufficient power and produces light of a wavelength that has scattering characteristics allowing for measurements of scattering over a long distance of fiber can be very expensive. Additionally, the electronics necessary to convert the received intensity of back scattered radiation into a digital representation become more expensive as their processing speed increases. Increasing the spatial resolution of the temperature measurements using timed light pulses requires digital representations of back scattered radiation intensity for smaller periods of time. Such representations are only available with the use of faster, and consequently, more expensive electronics. Additionally, high power pulses can cause stimulated emission of Raman light. Such stimulated emission cannot be distinguished from backscattered radiation and renders calculations inaccurate. [0009] The time pulse method disclosed in the '277 patent also uses optical components to screen Rayleigh scattered light from the sensors. Analyzing the characteristics of Rayleigh scattered light can result in useful information indicating possible mechanical stresses in the optical fiber. This information is not available when the wavelengths comprising the Rayleigh scattering are blocked from the sensors. [0010] A method and system of measuring optical scattering characteristics is disclosed. None of the advantages disclosed, by itself, is critical or necessary to the disclosure. [0011] A system is disclosed for measuring optical scattering characteristics that includes a laser that produces an excitation signal. An optical fiber is coupled to the laser. At least a portion of the excitation signal enters the optical fiber as a coupled excitation signal with a continuous waveform and an amplitude modulated at variable frequencies. A first detector receives radiation backscattered from the coupled excitation signal by the optical fiber. In a more specific embodiment, the coupled excitation signal has a power less than 500 mW. In another more specific embodiment, the optical fiber is a single mode optical fiber. [0012] A method is disclosed for measuring optical fiber characteristics that includes coupling a continuous wave laser excitation signal to an optical fiber. Radiation backscattered by the optical fiber in response to the coupled excitation signal is detected to produce a backscattered radiation signal. The backscattered radiation signal is mixed with the excitation signal to produce a mixed signal. The mixed signal is filtered to reduce the magnitude of frequencies other than conjugate mixing frequencies relative to the conjugate mixing frequencies. The filtered signal is digitized and the magnitude of backscattered radiation from a specific portion of the fiber is calculated based on the digitized signal. In a more specific embodiment, the temperature of a specific portion of the fiber is determined from the magnitude of the backscattered radiation. [0013] It is a technical advantage of the disclosed methods and systems that backscattered radiation from an optical target receiving a variable frequency interrogation signal is detected. [0014] It is also a technical advantage of the disclosed methods and systems that less expensive electronics can be used to monitor variable frequency backscattering. [0015] Another technical advantage of the system and method disclosed is that lower cost excitation sources producing less power can be used to produce accurate results. [0016] Another technical advantage of the system and method disclosed is that a lower power excitation signal can be coupled to a fiber to reduce non-linear distortion. [0017] Another technical advantage of the system and method disclosed is that the temperature at a specific point of the optical target can be determined. [0018] Another technical advantage of the system and method disclosed is that mechanical stresses of an optical fiber can be determined. [0019] Another technical advantage of the system and method disclosed is that the particle density of an air-filled region can be determined. [0020] Another technical advantage of the system and method disclosed is that the frequency difference between the detected reference signal and the detected backscattered radiation can be used to determine the origin of the backscattered radiation. [0021] Another technical advantage of the system and method disclosed is that the backscattering characteristics of single mode fiber can be determined. [0022] Other technical advantages of the present disclosure will be readily apparent to one skilled in the art from the following figures, descriptions, and claims. Various embodiments of the invention obtain only a subset of the advantages set forth. No one advantage is critical to the invention. For example, one embodiment of the present invention may only provide the advantage of detecting backscattered radiation, while other embodiments may provide several of the advantages. [0023] A more complete understanding of the present disclosure and advantages thereof may be acquired by referring to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numbers indicate like features, and wherein: [0024]FIG. 1 is a graph of electromagnetic spectra; [0025]FIG. 2 is a graph of a chirped, variable frequency, modulating signal; [0026]FIG. 3 is a diagram of a system for measuring optical scattering characteristics in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; [0027]FIG. 4 is a graph of amplitude modulation frequencies of backscattered radiation; [0028]FIG. 5 is a graph of a stepped, variable frequency, modulating signal; and [0029]FIG. 6 is a diagram of a system for measuring characteristics of optical fiber in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. [0030]FIG. 1 is a graph of electromagnetic spectra. One point in the fiber will reflect some light of the same optical frequency as the light being transmitted, known as Rayleigh scattering [0031]FIG. 2 is a graph of a chirped, variable frequency, modulating signal. The graph shows the frequency of the signal as a function of time. The modulating signal [0032]FIG. 3 is a diagram of a system for measuring optical scattering characteristics in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. A first frequency generator [0033] The avalanche photodiode [0034]FIG. 4 is a graph of amplitude modulation frequencies of backscattered radiation. A range of backscattered radiation frequencies are received at any particular time. The frequencies range from the minimum chirp frequency [0035] An expression for the instantaneous frequency of the chirp is: [0036] where f P(t)=0, t<0 [0037] with φ( [0038] where φ(t) is the phase of the waveform. The excitation shown in Eqn. 2 can be rewritten as:
[0039] The time span of the dashed regions in FIG. 4 is just [0040] In one embodiment, only data from outside the dashed regions is considered for determining optical backscattering characteristics. In that embodiment, data is available if
[0041] Eqn. 4 shows that the intensity modulation of the backscattered radiation received from the optical target will have both a DC and an AC component. The AC component of the modulation of the received backscattered radiation intensity as a function of time from a fiber of length, L, and absorption coefficient, α(l), can be expressed as an integral over the length of the fiber, after an initial transient period of one round trip time on the fiber, 2L/c:
[0042] where σ(l) measures the returned strength, from position l, of the backscattered signal that is trapped in the fiber and c is the speed of light in the fiber. In one embodiment, α(l) is assumed to be a constant, independent of l, so that the interior integral of Eqn. 5 is equal to □l. With that assumption the complex return, R(t) can be defined as
[0043] so that: [0044]FIG. 3 illustrates that the real return signal is mixed with the real excitation signal at mixer [0045] In one embodiment, the DC terms are eliminated by coupling only AC from the frequency generator [0046] The result of the mixing and filtering may then be written as: [0047] Thus
[0048] where K and A are constants that depend on circuit parameters. [0049] In one embodiment we restrict the acquisition time to
[0050] resulting in:
[0051] where the dependence of k on t is implicit. Performing a Fourier transform of {circumflex over (M)}(k) yields an expression that can be solved for σ({circumflex over (l)}).
[0052] However, data is available only over the finite range of time,
[0053] and over corresponding ranges of f(t) and k(t), where 0≦k [0054] which, after some manipulation, yields
[0055] where
[0056] If the remaining terms under the integral were slowly varying, the sinc function could be approximated by a Dirac delta function. However, for positive k, we note that
[0057] so that this condition is not met in practice. [0058] We are only able to collect data for positive frequencies, f(t), so we only have experimental data for positive values of k(t). However, if we examine Eqn. 11 for {circumflex over (M)}(k), we see that if the condition □γ□ [0059] is met, then {circumflex over (M)}(−k)≈{circumflex over (M)}*(k), where * indicates complex conjugation. Thus, {circumflex over (M)}(k) may be extended by this process, which we call bookmatching, to include negative k. This will permit us to set (k)=0 in Eqn. 14. The remaining terms will then vary much more slowly than the sinc function. If we also choose k [0060] where we have approximated
[0061] and 2k [0062] When backscattering from the fiber occurs from both discrete and continuous scatterers, the received signal from different locations on the fiber may include a wide dynamic range. In that instance, the contribution in Eqn. 16 from the sidelobes of the sinc function for a discrete scatterer may swamp the distributed scattering signal from nearby locations. In order to reduce this effect, we multiply the mixed signal of Eqn. 11 by a low pass window function, W(k), to produce [0063] By defining W(k) as a real, symmetric function of k, the function {circumflex over (M)} [0064] After bookmatching, we follow the procedures for {circumflex over (M)} [0065] where W(l) is the Fourier transform of a suitably normalized window function, W(k), chosen to ensure that W(l) approximates the Dirac function. [0066] Typical, non-normalized window functions that we have used include the offset Gauss type
[0067] and a generalized raised cosine function
[0068] where k [0069] For zero offset, the normalized, bookmatched, Gauss type window function, W [0070] where G(k) is a Gaussian function and
[0071] is the unit step function with support k k _{2} ·sinc (2k_{2} l) Eqn. 22
[0072] where Ĝ(l) is also a Gaussian function and denotes a convolution.[0073] The central peak of a sinc function is twice as wide as each of its sidelobes. We can choose G(k) in Eqn. 21 so that the width of Ĝ(l) matches that of the sinc's central peak. From Eqn. 22, this allows us to significantly reduce the sidelobes of W [0074] Data will normally be collected in discrete samples at equal intervals rather than continuously. Furthermore, it is also desirable to avoid taking zero frequency (DC) data. By choosing sample times so that the least sample frequency is half the frequency interval between samples, we arrive, after bookmatching, with a set of equally spaced samples,
[0075] frequency interval δf=γδt and sample time interval δt. [0076] Discrete Fourier transform of the data yields
[0077] where
[0078] The function in curly brackets is called the array factor. It will approximate a Dirac delta function over the region of integration provided the following conditions are met: 2□ [0079] and □□ [0080] If these constraints are satisfied, we find [0081] in agreement with our earlier result from Eqn. 16, where the right hand side Eqn. 26 is independent of k [0082] Thus, we see that if the constraints of Eqn. 15, Eqn. 24 and Eqn. 25 are satisfied, the transformed, low pass part of the mixed signal allows us to determine the signal backscattered from fiber as a function of position, {circumflex over (l)}, along the fiber. We also observe the expected exponential decay of the return signal with {circumflex over (l)}. [0083]FIG. 5 is a graph of a stepped, variable frequency, modulating signal. Like the chirped signal [0084]FIG. 6 is a diagram of a system for measuring characteristics of optical fiber in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. A first frequency generator [0085] A second frequency generator [0086] Taking γ=0 in the chirped frequency response of Eqn. 11 yields an expression for the complex mixed signal of the form
[0087] In this case, the conditions of Eqn. 15 for bookmatching are met exactly. If data is collected by stepping the laser modulation through equally spaced frequencies, and if the conditions of Eqn. 24 and Eqn. 25 are met, then the discrete Fourier transform of the sampled, mixed signal, yields Eqn. 26 or Eqn. 27. [0088] Although the present disclosure has been described in detail, it should be understood that various changes, substitutions and alterations can be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. Referenced by
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